If one thing truly held the Florida Gators basketball team back in the 2017-18 season, it was a complete lack of consistency.
The Gators made strides in that area towards the end of the season, but had they played that way earlier and more often, they could’ve been looking at a very different situation in the postseason.
Closing out a couple games here and making a couple more shots there could have at least put Florida in position for a share of the SEC regular season title and possibly a more favorable seed in the NCAA Tournament.
But there is no point in looking back at the what ifs now. The only thing that matters it what is yet to come, and the first thing on head coach Mike White’s list is finding ways to create consistency.
“When you look at who we lost, I guess my biggest concern is consistency,” he said. “We were a team that looked like a Top 10 team at times and then we were a team that looked like an NIT team at times. Really, the two guys we could count on for consistency are leaving us. That’s the biggest question mark going into next season and it’ll be something we continue to talk about as much as anything during this offseason.”
Of course, the guys he spoke of were seniors Chris Chiozza and Egor Koulechov. And then the next guy up behind them was probably Jalen Hudson, who is testing the NBA Draft waters and may be gone as well.
That’s a lot of talent to make up for, but the biggest point of concern right now is the point guard position. While Chiozza was the backbone of the team and will be extremely hard to replace, the Gators still have a lot of potential there.
KeVaughn Allen will be a senior with a ton of experience, but he has only had limited opportunities at that position and is not a true point guard.
Mike Okauru showed flashes of what he could be in his freshman season, but with a player like Chiozza out there, didn’t get much playing time.
Then, of course, Florida will bring in highly touted freshman Andrew Nembhard, who White said is the best passer in his class and will automatically be the best on the team once he arrives.
This will be an interesting battle to keep an eye on.
“I think that Mike Okauru and KeVaughn Allen will tell you it’s theirs to lose,” White said. “That should be their mentality. Andrew Nembhard is really talented, of course, coming off an unbelievable high school year … He’s going to come in and fight for minutes and fight for a starting spot immediately, as well. So, I think we’re going to have a healthy competition.”
Another big concern White takes into the offseason is how the inside game will develop over the next six months.
Along with inconsistency, lack of depth inside led to the Gators’ downfall in 2017-18.
John Egbunu never returned from his torn ACL, Isaiah Stokes took a redshirt, Kevarrius Hayes didn’t take the step he needed to, Gorjok Gak was held back by his knee all season and Dontay Bassett did not hit his stride until the last month or so of play.
The good news is, aside from Egbunu, all of these pieces return. If the Gators can find a way to get healthy and stay healthy, there is a possibility of being much better in that area next season.
“I only feel comfortable if we make a big jump, and our guys know that,” White said. “If games started tomorrow, it’s going to be a deficiency of ours. But we have a long offseason to attack it the right way.”
It’s a long offseason and there is a lot to work on, but White feels confident about where his team stands moving forward.
He also said no one has given him any indication of wanting to transfer, which is almost unheard of in this day and age of college basketball. For now, everyone is staying the course and working hard towards a new season.
“I really, really like where we are in terms of the character of our roster and how our guys are taking care of business off the floor, how they take care of business academically,” White said. “We just have to continue develop offensively and defensively … I wish practice started tomorrow. I really do. I’m excited for what we can be here. I’m eager to get started.”